Archive for December, 2008

Everything’s great…

December 22nd, 2008

Trying to put our lives in a larger perspective. Funny, indeed. Via nat via fred wilson.

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Biased decisions

December 21st, 2008

A fun video cataloging a number of error in reasoning that people make in their decisions. Enjoy!

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Why is facebook one of the most trusted companies in America?

December 16th, 2008

Dave Morin, a senior facebook executive, posted this article showing that facebook is now one of the twenty most trusted companies in America. Why?

Here is my thought about sharing, privacy and trust. People succumb to the psychological force of ‘cognitive dissonance.’ Cognitive dissonance says that you have to reconcile contradiction between behaviors and attitudes to reduce the uncomfortable feeling of dissonance. In the case of facebook, people know that they care about privacy yet they find themselves in a place where they’ve shared their inner most secrets with a web site. To resolve that tension between attitudes and behaviors, they choose to believe that they trust facebook.

It’s a powerful virtuous cycle: the more you share, the more you trust and conversely, the more you trust, the more you share.

1. technology ,

Engaging a million citizens

December 15th, 2008

Here is an interesting article in the American Prospect that proposes that how Obama administration should try to engage citizens in governance, co-written by my friend Joe Goldman at AmericaSpeaks. The key sentence:

As president, Obama should signal a new kind of governance by calling on the American people to take part in a series of national discussions, each engaging 1 million Americans or more, on the issues of highest public concern, such as the economy, health care, foreign policy, energy, and climate change.”

I know that my advisor Jim Fishkin would criticize AmericaSpeaks recruitment methodology, that allows anyone to participate. He usually argues for random sampling to ensure “formal equality” in the deliberations. But there is definitely something appealing and legitimate about having an open process that offer equal opportunity to participate and make special efforts to recruit people from underserved communities.

I’ll be interested to see if any this talk translates into action!

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From campaigns to governance

December 9th, 2008

The grassroots Obama campaign is asking itself what it should do now that the election has been won. The answer? Governance. I am heartened by these goals that they’ve laid out in an email I received this email from my local chapter:

The national organization [e.g., Obama for America] will 1) support state and local legislation; 2) organize grassroots efforts in communities and train volunteers; 3) facilitate two way communication between the White House and volunteers about priorities; and 4) rejuvenate civic engagement on a local and national level.

And also two ways to get involved:

* Attend a house party this coming weekend to plan strategies for civic engagement plans. Go to to find a house party near you.
* Be part of our transition effort. OFA has asked local organizations to conduct research about our communities, identifying the most important relationships outside team (non profits, media, unions, etc); as well as the tools we will need to get things done. Go to to read about the teams to get involved.

I’ll be interested to see how it pans out.

2. politics

Lessig’s big idea

December 9th, 2008

I love this quote:

I think the big idea, as every big idea is, is just one amazing step beyond where we are right now. And I think you think about the Obama campaign, something like Wikipedia, something like the stuff that’s going on on the Internet, the kind that I think of as read write culture. What it really is doing is reviving the sense that people can do something. Not the passive couch potato politics or couch potato culture, but that they can do something. We’re close to making it really effective. I think the next cycle, what you’re going to see in the way politics functions, will be unrecognizable, even from today. But when we’re there, it will be a revival of ideals, aspirations about democracy that will surprise us. The cynicism that we had in the 20th century will look very 20th century.

Read a nice summary of a fantastic interview by Charlie Rose, with video clips, over at

1. technology, 2. politics ,

The economy

December 9th, 2008

I’ve started two highly-rated and related conversations about the economy over on e-thePeople. The first one, “Things are worse than you think they are,” talks about how the government has been cooking the books on key economic figures like unemployment, inflation and the GDP and how this deception has contributed to our current crisis (hat tip to my bro for finding this great source for the article.) The second talks about what we can do to get out of this mess (“Economic Stimulus: Burden or investment of a lifetime?“).

The upshot so far to me of these conversations. on the first count, the e-peeps are not too surprised that the government rigging the books but have mixed feelings about whether Obama will come clean. On the second count, some seem mostly cautious about predicting whether the stimulus will work or not, and that we should heed the lessons of FDR. I guess that makes sense because Obama hasn’t spelled out what he plans to do yet.

Both conversations are worth a scan if you have a chance.

2. politics

The potential of the social internet

December 8th, 2008

I am *extremely* bullish about the social internet in general, and in facebook connect in particular. Here is a nice slide deck that helps frame the opportunity by imagining what Amazon and iTunes might look like with real facebook connect functionality.

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Prop 8 the Musical

December 5th, 2008

Funny ’cause it’s so true.

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

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You be the judge…

December 2nd, 2008

Al Franken and Norm Coleman are still battling over disputed ballots – nuts! In any event, you can view some disputed ballots and decide for yourself how they should be counted (and use the guidelines provided by the state of MN).

What in the world was this voter thinking?

And this guy/gal?

Spoiler alert: sadly, they don’t have definitive answers on who gets the votes!

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Facebook Connect

December 2nd, 2008

I just watched Mark Zuckerberg’s speech announcing Facebook Connect. The Internet is going social. (By the way, CNET has some really video coverage of technology. I watched two “daily briefs” that automatically started after this video ended about Facebook Connect and iPhone apps that were both really good.) In any event, enjoy!

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December 1st, 2008

fireflyI have just stumbled on an interesting annotation technology called “firefly.” I’ve installed it on my blog, so you can see it in action here on this home page. It allows you to enter comments anywhere on my site. It scratches the surface of what is possible in terms of adding interactive features on any site on the Internet:

1. You install it by dropping in two small tags into your site (e.g., it requires very limited technical abilities)
2. You can authenticate and administer your site on their site

However, I am somewhat doubtful that this service will take off in its present form, mostly because of user interface issues. You can’t see the comments with clicking on the box on the bottom. The comments are more like graffiti than conversation.

I see several interesting possibilities for the future of this kind of technology. It would be nice to have a complimentary toolbar implementation, like, so that users could leave comments on any site. (This service lets any user leave on particular sites.) It could be integrated with services like facebook connect to create conversations among friends. And of course, the model could be used for a wide range of possible interactive features that go beyond the current widgets and toolbars that are available and widely used currently.

1. technology ,

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